The X-​Files” Parody, Pushing A Drug

The X-​Files” was a TV series that ran from 1995 to 2002. The recent broad­cast is showing now – and it reminds me of an assign­ment on January 7,1997, when I received a call from an art director at FCB /​Health­care, to work on a story­board for Biaxin, Abbott Labo­ra­to­ries. At the agency, the copy­writer was creating the script. The art director suggested that, before coming in to the agency, I should video­tape a showing of “The X-​Files” to study the char­ac­ters, Mulder and Scully and also study the mood of the mystery.
The lines from the first page of the script that was faxed to me, titled :
Treat­ment for Product Rep Video
“The BiaXin-​Files”: The Cure Is Out There
“Main Char­ac­ters” were described as Agent Mildew and Agent Scuzzy.

I had always thought that a peptic ulcer was caused by stress but the copy of this assign­ment taught me that it is often caused from H-​pylori bacteria (Helicobacter-​pylori). In 1985, Abbott Labs had part­nered with a Japanese drug company to fight bacte­rial infec­tions. Abbott Labs got the FDA approval for Biaxin in 1991.

By the time that I arrived at the agency, with these sketches, the art director had devel­oped this rough story­board for me to follow. My image of the H-​pylori bacteria is the sharp-​toothed eel-​like image that I found and clipped from my exten­sive scrap file. I colored this crea­ture in the brightest, glowing colors that would make the crea­ture stand out in the dark video.
Following the art director’s 24 frames, my inter­me­diate frames of the story­board got approval from the agency.

There was one more version drawn with more detail and presented on boards for approval of the client, Abbott Labs.
Since I was working at home and at the agency, my time-​sheet (I am surprised that I kept it) shows the hours and loca­tions as I was devel­oping the begin­ning, inter­me­diate and final draw­ings. First, the hours I worked were week­days and then there was also a lot of weekend, over­time hours, as it neared the dead­line. I don’t have the final perfected story­board, it was kept by the agency, but the timesheet for the last version – shows that I spent the average of 27 minutes on each frame.
As my part of this promo­tional campaign ended, I moved on to other jobs for other clients, so I never found out if the video was actu­ally produced. Could they find actor /​look-​alikes, find loca­tions and afford the special effects for such a spoof ? The video would have been very expen­sive and prob­ably was to be shown at confer­ences or parties, tied in with a trade show. I don’t know how this video could educate the reps with infor­ma­tion to use as they repre­sented Biaxin to doctors and medical centers.
(There was, at the end of the video, a “doctor” with a closing message. Copy for this was not included with the script. This might have contained impor­tant infor­ma­tion for the product repre­sen­ta­tives.)

As I was preparing this report, I was able to find a clue suggesting that the parody had been produced. I studied the collec­tion of “images” that came with the search of : Biaxin. Here were many “Tchotchkes – free promo­tional items dispensed at trade shows, conven­tions, and similar commer­cial events”. (This is a term that I learned when first working for phar­ma­ceu­tical agen­cies).

In this collec­tion, I spotted the same kind of “bacteria monster” (that I had intro­duced in my story­board) shown on a wall clock ! There is no date for the clock, but if it was made in 1997, it might have been handed out at the time of the showing of “The Biaxin-​Files”!

Then and now, the ques­tion : how could the Abbott sales force get any infor­ma­tion from the video to aid them as they repre­sented Biaxin to the medical world ? Medical journal ads, trade shows, patient aids, product infor­ma­tion, confer­ences, and direct reports to the reps are all of value– but giving reps : clothing, pens, plush toys, etc.? There must be a reason for rewarding product reps, with small gifts, beyond paying them. Some items could have been passed on during the rep’s appoint­ments. The enter­taining moti­va­tional video and give­aways were prob­ably paid for by patients, as “research and devel­op­ment”.

Ann Thompson

Twins With Different Art Styles

The McKee twins seemed to move natu­rally, each into their own style of art. I asked those who knew them what they remem­bered about them at the time that they both worked in San Fran­cisco at Land­phere Asso­ciates. The memo­ries from several Land­phere artists reported the McKee brothers were very close and a family member said that they even built a house together, which is a very different situ­a­tion where conflicts can be common.
Both Don and Ron McKee sensed as early as the 3rd grade at the John T. Hartman grade school in Kansas City, Missouri, that they wanted to make “Art” their career. Later, after grad­u­ating from South­west High in 1949, Don and Ron attended one year at The Univer­sity of Kansas City and one year at the Kansas City Art Insti­tute and then attended the Amer­ican Academy of Art in Chicago. Both twins were drafted into the U.S. Army for two years. As the Korean War ended, after completing basic training, Don and Ron spent the rest of their two-​year career in the Army designing and silk screening recruiting posters for the Sixth Army at The Presidio, located near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Ron McKee After the mili­tary service, Ron was a top grad­uate of Art Center College in southern Cali­fornia. Working as an illus­trator in Detroit, San Fran­cisco, New York and Los Angeles, Ron has provided art for Ford, GM, Chrysler, Arco, 3M, Readers Digest, Universal Studios and Mattel Toys, among others. He produced paint­ings for the Irvine Company for the “Newport Coast Exhibit” picturing their luxury housing devel­op­ment.
During the few years that Ron worked at Landphere’s, Ron had this fresh and easy style when illus­trating sleek auto­mo­biles.

In contrast, this brochure for the new $21 million Crocker Plaza required Ron to accu­rately illus­trate and dramat­i­cally empha­size the 38-​story struc­ture to be completed in 1968. (I am including all of the pages of the brochure to show that this was a very large building for a skyline so different from today’s. The brochure was meant to be turned, to view the pages hori­zon­tally and verti­cally. (I do not have the infor­ma­tion to credit the agency and others involved in its produc­tion.) Following in the gallery are illus­tra­tions that were presented in various annual exhi­bi­tions :

In 1970 Ron McKee moved to work in the Los Angeles area. Now his paint­ings are marketed directly through numerous shows and select galleries.

Don McKee After the mili­tary service, Don was hired by Max Land­phere Asso­ciates (then at 215 Kearny Street) as a graphic designer. He produced ads and brochures for adver­tising agen­cies and direct clients.
Here are just some exam­ples from 1958, all eight were presented in San Francisco’s10th Annual Art Direc­tors Exhi­bi­tion :

By 1960 while at Land­phere Asso­ciates, Don had devel­oped a new concept in greeting cards, called “Cube Cards” as you see below.

Don, for a time, had his own graphic studio at 901 Broadway and when Max Land­phere retired, Don moved back to the Land­phere loca­tion (then on Gold Street) and he named it : “Artworks”. By 1973 he employed as many as 40 artists. In his many years as a successful graphic artist Don devel­oped an “art path” uniquely his own and he empow­ered others to multiply their own artistic talents. Don also created a selec­tion of regular greeting cards and with a move of his office and studio to San Rafael, Cali­fornia : he renamed his company “Joy Crafters”.
(Note, for accu­racy, I have “lifted” parts of para­gaphs from the biogra­phies of Ron and Don and these two photos of the twins were the only ones that I found.)
I’ve noticed that most siblings, who are close in age, compete. As chil­dren, the rivalry can be in many areas of accom­plish­ments as they mature. When the chal­lenge was drawing, my sister and I made a pact. I would not draw fashion and she would not draw cartoons. There was, then, no compe­ti­tion.
Ann Thompson

Louis Macouillard, Location, Location

Louis Macouil­lard, Loca­tion – Loca­tion

I never got to meet this fine San Fran­cisco painter/​illustrator who was known for his water­color paint­ings, posters, menu covers, murals, stamp designs and more. Of French decent, he was born in San Fran­cisco in 1913.
In the early ‘30s he attended San Fran­cisco Poly­technic High School (1884 – 1973).

701 Fred­erick Street, across from Kezar Stadium, I show the two gymna­siums, as they are today and a photo showing the main building. Also, here is a Google photo, showing the distance between the two gyms, where the main building once stood.
I know three of my friends who schooled there in the late ‘40s and ‘50s. The photo of these friends in art class, are today’s artists : Norm Nicholson and Tony Calvello. The school offered a prepa­ra­tion for a career rather than require­ments for an acad­emic college.

By 1934, Louis was attending the Cali­fornia College of Arts in Oakland (which was renamed in 1936 as the Cali­fornia College of Arts Crafts). The history of this college goes back to 1902. Louis then studied study at the Art Students League in New York City.
Back in San Fran­cisco, he opened his studio on Hotaling Place. He became art director for Velve­tone Poster Company at the same loca­tion in Jackson Square.
Following the early proce­dures that put printed words on felt pennants, this poster company pioneered the high quality screen-​printing of a “poster”. Here is a photo of that pioneer poster company and the poster that Louis Macouil­lard created for them. The third showing is Hotaling Place, today.

Louis was a Lieu­tenant in the Navy during WWII in the South Pacific. Research stated that a spread of his paint­ings from this area of the world was shown in the October 18,1943 issue of Life Maga­zine. The cover, shown below, shows Ensign Louis Macouil­lard and Grace Harrison, who was an adver­tising copy­writer in San Fran­cisco. They had married in July of 1943 and they remained together until his death in 1987. Grace died in 2000. Nowhere on the web could I find the story in the maga­zine, so for $6.59 I bought a copy so that I could share it here. This issue had many adver­tise­ments of prod­ucts known then and now, with illus­tra­tions from the very talented commer­cial artists of the time. Besides the British Pathé News in the theaters and the limited photos in news­pa­pers, Life’s exten­sive photos covering WWII in many parts of the world was an exten­sive and current view of the war.
Here is Life Magazine’s story about Ensign Macouil­lard and repro­duc­tions of his paint­ings, on loca­tion, followed by a painting that he created near the ancient temple, Marea Tainuu on the island, Ra’i?tea, French Poly­nesia.

The last image is a remem­brance written by Fred Meinke. Fred and Cal Anderson, (two of our SF adver­tising friends) also painted when “off-​duty” at a WWII loca­tion.

During the 1960s, Louis carried on the assign­ment of menu covers for the Matson Line. He followed three previous artists who had illus­trated trop­ical scenes for the line’s voyages to Hawaii and other trop­ical Matson desti­na­tions. From the Macouil­lard collec­tion, I show just three. There seems to be just one menu showing San Fran­cisco.

Through the years, there are so very many exam­ples of Macouillard’s fine art and commer­cial assign­ments found on the web (Louis Macouillard-​Images). I show a few well-​known exam­ples and include some that are in private collec­tions.

A few notes from the above collec­tion :
The 1950s illus­tra­tion “South Shore St. Peter’s Church Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Bermuda After­noon” was one printed by Portal Publi­ca­tions, Ltd. (founded in 1954 in San Rafael, CA)
“Summer Fog” was one of four prints (date unknown) by Bohemian Inter­na­tional Publishers, Ltd..
The Bank of America mural in San Mateo, CA.
BofA was formerly, The Bank of Italy in San Fran­cisco. During the 1906 earth­quake and fire, all funds were moved for safe-​keeping by A. P. Gian­nini to his home San Mateo.
This 1970s mural is a tribute to Mr. Gian­nini and that history. It was designed by Louis Macouil­lard. Glass tiles were set by Alphonso Purdinas.

Louis was a very skilled, life-​long yachtsman and he hand­crafted one of the first trimarans to sail on San Fran­cisco Bay. Besides their home on Russian Hill in San Fran­cisco, the Macouil­lards also lived in Glen Ellen, Sonoma County, another area of inspi­ra­tion for his painting.
Louis Macouil­lard died on November 26, 1987 in San Fran­cisco.

Ann Thompson

Imitating The New Yorker Cartoonists

Imita­tion is the sincerest form of flat­tery.” This is the famous quote used since it was stated by the English cleric and writer, Charles Caleb Colton who lived from 1780 – 1832. Artists, through the years, have learned from each other and often there is an obvious simi­larity achieved in their work. I found that it was chal­lenging to imitate the art styles of others. As a layout artist, I could present a partic­ular artist’s style- — with the plan of the client hiring the artist known for that style.

In 1968, Charles Matheny Adver­tising was located on the second floor of the Belli Building (where I was begin­ning my graphic art career) we both admired James Thurber who was an Amer­ican writer with a unique style of wit and humorous illus­tra­tion. Thurber’s cartoons and short stories were published mostly in The New Yorker, and he was also a jour­nalist and a play­wright—

–but he could no longer be reached :
James Grover Thurber (December 8, 1894 – November 2, 1961).

So imita­tion was our answer.
I offered a similar “look” (not truly copying his style — not really fooling Thurber fans). Charles Matheny had a long career in copy­writing for adver­tising. There were various campaigns for his client, Cali­fornia Casu­alty. These ads, folders and counter card show the art style that didn’t take much time to execute so it fit the client’s sched­ules and budget for this campaign.

In 1975, there were two ad campaigns, promoting the use of BankAmeri­card. I was to study Robert Weber’s cartoon style. His work was easy to find as his cartoons were also published often in The New Yorker maga­zine. Robert Maxwell Weber (April 22, 1924 – October 20, 2016 Known for over 1,400 cartoons that appeared in The New Yorker from 1962 to 2007 – this was an artist that could be reached in the 1970s ! The first ad shows Weber’s style. Next, my layout (imitating Weber’s style) and the final ad by Weber as printed in many publi­ca­tions.

With the second BofA ad — I again tried to guess the image that would sell the concept to the client, National BankAmeri­card Inc. (that I knew as NBI). (After all these years, my files are incom­plete and I cannot remember the creative director that guided me.) I was not able to have a copy of the second final printed ad showing Weber’s final art — but here is the Xerox from those days that shows his plan. I was able to use this image in preparing the type and place­ment of the art before his final illus­tra­tion arrived.

Charles David Saxon (November 13, 1920 — December 6. 1988)

Maxwell “Bud” Arnold formed an adver­tising agency in 1970. He was creating effec­tive adver­tising campaigns for clients but he also felt that he could use adver­tising to reach an audi­ence on socially conscious issues. In September of 1976, for Maxwell Arnold’s client, Golden Gate Transit, I was asked to imitate a Charles Saxon style. (This was the only time that I had free-​lanced for Mr. Arnold. He died May 24, 2013.)

After being an editor for Dell Publishing before and after his service in WW2, Saxon began his career as a very well know cartoonist — first for The Saturday Evening Post and in 1956 he started producing his outstanding 92 covers and 700 cartoons for The New Yorker.
Following the two SAXON covers, below, this was my “Saxonish” drawing that’s Bud Arnold submitted to Golden Gate Transit for an approval of style—

—but the finished art was assigned to still another artist who was showing in several popular maga­zines and also worked for year for Disney : Henry ‘Hank’ Syverson (October 5, 1918 – August 12, 2007) Besides being a constant cartoonist for the Saturday Evening Post, This Week and The New Yorker maga­zines, his draw­ings reached other coun­tries with PAN AM Airways ads.
Here are some of Syverson’s creations :

The last ad appeared in October in the Marin County’s Inde­pen­dent Journal. It was then that I found out that the client had changed the artist from Charles Saxon to Hank Syverson.

Ann Thompson

Lunch With Dugald

Lunch With Dugald
by Newell Alexander

Rose­mary and I had flown to San Fran­cisco from L.A. to act in a series of commer­cials for a now defunct Bay Area amuse­ment park. In the first shot of the day, Rose­mary, two little kids and I were riding in a basket on the back of a huge elephant. We were stuck as the animal proceeded to go rogue, he ran through a large part of the park before he could be stopped with us unable to get off. Later, in another shot I was supposed to stand next to a Tiger who decided to lie on top of me, I was trying not to panic. The trainer kept screaming at the cat and jerking on a long chain. I was begging him, “Don’t make him mad.” The Tiger finally lost interest, stood up and saun­tered away. The produc­tion was a disaster, the director quit in the middle of the day, the whole thing was a wash, I don’t think the spot ever aired. But all was not lost, we both had a good payday and we were going to get to see my old pal, famed San Fran­cisco artist Dugald Stermer, so the trip was not a total failure.

It had been several years since I had seen Dugald, so Rose­mary and I rented a car and added an extra day to our trip so we could have nice long catch-​up lunch. Dugald called in his no nonsense manner, “Meet me at Delancy’s, it’s near my studio in the Embar­cadero.” The meal was delightful, Dugald’s pres­ence gave us lots of atten­tion, the staff approached our table as if he were a Francis Ford Coppola Godfa­ther, we later found out he was a long standing member of the board of the Delancy Street Foun­da­tion that managed the restau­rant. I did give him some grief over him having a sand­wich named after him on the menu. Dugald wasn’t a big fan of show busi­ness ; his ex-​father-​in-​law was James Bacon, a long time promi­nent enter­tain­ment colum­nist for the Los Angeles Herald-​Examiner. Dugald’s former wife Carol was raised in Holly­wood amid all the glitz and glamour, neither she nor Dugald were attracted to celebrity.

After lunch we walked around to Dugald’s studio, which was in the complex, it’s hard to describe how he had designed his work­space, it was remi­nis­cent of what Tom Mix or Ken Maynard’s den would look like, Indian pottery, rugs, Western memo­ra­bilia, a real Western ambiance. Several left-​handed guitars adorned the walls. After his passing it was dupli­cated in a display at the Cali­fornia College of the Arts.

When he first came to Houston, I watched Dugald tran­si­tion from a West Coast casual look, to boots, vest, Levis, and western shirts, a signa­ture look he retained to the end. In his studio we looked at some of his work, we remi­nisced, Rose­mary and I sang, and we drank some rare Irish Whiskey, of which he was very fond. It was the last time we were face-​to-​face.

The next week after our lunch, I wrote Dugald the following letter using the Delancy Restau­rant address.

Dear Mr. Stermer,
We had lunch in San Fran­cisco last week at Delancy’s, we saw you
having lunch with one of our favorite actors, Newell Alexander, we were going to ask him for an auto­graph but we somehow missed him when you guys left. My wife asked the staff who you were and the waiter said you just ate his sand­wich. Ha ! Since you know him could you send this enclosed package to him ? It has return postage.
Thanking you in advance, this means a lot to us.
Babs and Sven Yevhoods
P.S. We met Newell at the Cow Palace when he was touring with Neil Young.

I got an answer to my letter a few days later, it was on his letter­head, in the middle of the page were two words hand lettered in his trade­mark callig­raphy, “Nice Try.”

I first met Dugald when I was working as a designer/​paste up artist in a small six-​man studio in booming Houston, Texas. He had been working for a short while for the Dick Kuhn Studio in Los Angeles, he was recruited by our studio owner, Bill Middaugh. I was a little disap­pointed when my boss Bill, came back from a Cali­fornia trip all-​aglow over Dugald’s work. I saw the attrac­tion when I leafed through Dugald’s port­folio, his work was so good I couldn’t be jealous. I had one year of art at the Univer­sity of Houston, he was a grad­uate of the UCLA School of Fine Art. He and Olympic Cham­pion Rafer Johnson were class­mates and they were exchange students together in India during Dugald’s Junior year.

I was assigned to pick Dugald up at Hobby Airport in South Houston, I was curious, I knew he and I were about the same age. We both were family men, I had three chil­dren, he had four. The years he had spent in art school, I had spent in the U.S. Navy as an aviator.

We were doing very well at the studio, the addi­tion of Dugald was amazing, he and I worked well together, word was out that we were a “hot shop,” doing good, creative work. Our boss Bill came in with the news that we were getting a chance to land an ad campaign for the largest bank in Houston, no pitch, just design an ad, if they liked it we could have the account. It was to be a full-​page four-​color ad on the back of Hous­tonian Maga­zine. We briefly brain­stormed and Dugald did a rough sketch, it said in small type, “member of,” and then “FDIC” in a huge bold font. He added a small photo of the bank building about the size of a postage stamp on the bottom margin. Sizing up the work, Boss Bill said, “I don’t think they’ll get it.” There was a long silence, “How about doing an alter­nate ? Just make the building big and FDIC small.” Dugald refused to change it. I wouldn’t change it either and we didn’t get the account. Dugald’s reac­tion ? Fuck ‘em.” The story got around the ad commu­nity in Houston and our busi­ness skyrock­eted. It was a lesson well learned. I used the same tech­nique later when I was working as an art director on major accounts at a large agency in Dallas. I won some battles and lost some.

I never knew Dugald as an illus­trator, he did however do the linocuts and hand set all the type in the work he did on his small letter­press he called “The Impress.” The small 4 x 5 inch books were gems that he printed on hand­made paper, the text was simple and clever, the art was very tasty. His press was set up in his house and he spent many late nights drinking Irish whiskey and making small delightful pieces of art. His mastery of typog­raphy was amazing and he won numerous awards in the Houston and Dallas-​Fort Worth Art Director’s compe­ti­tions.

Howard Gossage was flown in to judge the Houston Art Director’s show. He was an icon in the adver­tising San Fran­cisco adver­tising commu­nity, Howard was blown away by Dugald’s work. Dugald won several awards and with Howard’s help he landed the Art Director’s job at Ramparts Maga­zine in the Bay Area. Dugald assisted me in getting a job at CA maga­zine in Palo Alto. I free-​lanced some for Dugald at Ramparts but only for a few months. The mail boy at the maga­zine, and our weed connec­tion, was a young eager kid named Jann Wenner. Jann went on to trans­form the anti-​war maga­zine Ramparts into today’s Rolling Stone Maga­zine.

My tenure at CA was brief, I moved back to Texas and didn’t see Dugald for many years. I watched his ascent into art fame as I labored in Southern Cali­fornia building an acting career.

Dugald and I only had one moment of discord, I made an off-​hand remark in a post, “Keep the lenses of your Art-​O-​Graph clean.” (An Art-​O-​Graph is a tool to aid drawing). I knew he was pissed because of several one-​word responses to my e-​mails.

Every once in a while when I have a moment I will log on to Dugald’s website and just browse through some of his work. His design sense helped him place his art on the page in very tasty ways. He would scoff at the notion, but I consider him a master.

Dugald Stermer mastered the appli­ca­tion of art and ideas.

The Ramparts covers, above show one example from each of the years when Dugald was the art director at the maga­zine. The two exam­ples— Ben Franklin and Woody Guthrie — show styles far different than illus­tra­tions that he produced later. The edito­rial page, in 1969 explained that Ramparts had been loosing revenue and had to go into bank­ruptcy, Chapter 11. Dugald left his posi­tion as art director in 1970. The maga­zine needed to raise its subscrip­tion price and had legal prob­lems. It lasted until 1975. Then it was taken over and became the Rolling Stone Maga­zine. Another offshoot was Mother Jones Maga­zine.

At the left of this story, under Artist’s Sites, you will see Dugald Stermer’s website showing his deft illus­tra­tion and lettering styles known to his many admirers.
More on Newell Alexander can be found on IMDb.

Ann Thompson